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Release: March 13, 2001

Activist to share Indian perspective March 22

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Leo Saldanha, an Indian scholar and environmental activist, became involved in yet another social action campaign when a devastating earthquake rocked India in January. As part of the Bangalore Response to Gujarat Earthquake initiative, he campaigned for rescue and relief efforts and is now calling for long term rehabilitation solutions.

Saldanha has spent more than a decade working with environmental and social action groups in India. He will share his knowledge and experience when he speaks on "Globalization, Environment and Freedom: An Indian Perspective," Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Terrace Room of the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU). The lecture will be followed by a reception, both of which are free and open to the public.

Saldanha's talk is the second in the International Programs Distinguished Lecture Series, which is coordinated by the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council with support from International Programs and the Stanley-UI Foundation Support Organization. The series includes distinguished scholars and environmentalists from the Czech Republic, India, Nicaragua and the United States who are visiting the University of Iowa this spring to discuss, "A Challenge for the 21st Century: Economic Development and Environmental Protection."

In addition to being a researcher, analyst and social activist, Saldanha is the coordinator of Environmental Support Group (ESG) in Bangalore, India. This is a non-profit organization he founded along with other activists and professionals. Saldanha and ESG assist civil society groups and local communities with their struggles for justice, development and a safe environment.

An active campaigner on a multitude of public interest issues in the State of Karnataka, Saldanha is opposed to many of the highly questionable decisions of foreign investment in Karnataka, especially in its power sector. His activism in this region aided local communities in resisting plans of transnational corporations to locate power plants in the environmentally sensitive region of Dakshina Kannada.

Saldanha's many endeavors include promoting the influence of grassroots experiences on decision making at the state and national levels. He strives to do this through his own independent efforts to bridge the gap between the world of activism and academia. His areas of research and interests include: environment, development and human rights related law and policy; urban and regional planning; municipal administration and local governance legislation; community mobilization; child labor law; and experiential education methodologies.

In his decade of involvement in environmental and social issues in India, Saldanha has helped found and coordinate various social action groups like CIVIC Bangalore, Bangalore Support Group, Programme for Parthenium Elimination and Youth for Youth, a program working with street children in India. He has also served as a faculty member for institutions such as the South Asian Center of the Friends World Program of Long Island University and Street Educators‚ Training Programme Through Action Research, a collaborative program of the Institute of Development Research Amsterdam of the University of Amsterdam.

UI programs, departments and centers co-sponsoring the Distinguished Lecture series include: Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, Center for Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies, Center for Human Rights, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, Global Studies, Latin American Studies, South Asian Studies, and Global Health Studies. For more information about the lectures or for special accommodations to participate in this program, call the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council at (319) 335-0351.

Iowa City Foreign Relations Council is part of UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.